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Nami PravrajyĀ

The Ordination Of Nami


The ninth chapter of the Uttarādhyayanasūtra carries the story of the ordination of Nami, the legendary king of Mithilā. This tale is illustrative of the depth of true detachment when it occurs and that once it has occurred, one cannot be moved away from it even by the most enticing inducements. Juxtaposing the truly detached aspirant with the greedy one, it unequivocally declares that for the greedy the wealth of the three worlds is also insufficient, while for the contented it is quite meaningless. Like this it brings out the universal truth that nothing belongs to the truly detached and, whatever happens, he remains unmoved in his spiritual quest.

Nami’s Plight –

Nami, the king of Mithilā, once suffered from burning high fever for six months. All treatments failed. His condition did not improve in spite of best of court physicians treating him with all the curative skills at their command. One of them suggested that sandal paste be applied all over his body. The queens started grinding sandalwood for making the paste. While grinding, their bangles struck against each other and made a tinkling noise thatthe king, in his desperate disposition, could not bear. He asked the queens to stop the noise. The queens, in turn, retained only one bangle each, as a mark of their fortunate wedded status, and removed the rest. The noise stopped forthwith. How could a lone bangle tinkle?

Nami’s Detachment –

When the king noticed that the sandal was still being ground but without the attendant noise, he inquired and was told about the queens having retained a bangle each and removing the rest. This incident proved to be a turning point in his life. He thought that crowd is the cause of noise, struggle, pain and misery and that loneness is the cause of relief, peace and tranquility. Where there is the crowd of physicality, senses, mind, wealth, family and fraternity, there can only be pain and misery; there cannot be any solace. Where there exists only the loneness of spirituality, there cannot be any pain, only spiritual solace.

Thinking like this his heart was filled with pious detachment from the mundane and his inclination became spiritual. He declared his intention to become a monk, left everything as it was and went out of the capital to take the monastic vows.

Nami was a highly benevolent and popular king. He was the apple of his subjects’ eyes. When the word went round that the king had abjured the throne to become a monk, there was utter confusion in the capital. Everyone started wailing as if the whole capital was on fire. All over the capital there was pandemonium let loose.

Śakra : The Heavenly King’s Sojourn To Mithilā –

The news of king Nami’s detachment and abjuration reached the heavens as well and hearing it Śakra, the king of heavenly gods, thought of testing the steadfastness of the king’s detached disposition. He donned the garb of a Brahmin mendicant and came to the place where the royal ascetic was and started talking to him.

Śakra Talks To Nami –

The dialogue that ensued between them went like this –

Śakra – “O’ Royal monk µ Why is there a din of pitiable wailing in your erstwhile capital town of Mithilā?”

Nami “In Mithilā there was a great, attractive, fruity and shady tree that sheltered all the birds that perched on it and was, generally very useful for all the towns–folks. Today that tree has been blown down by a great storm and fallen. The shelterless birds are, therefore, wailing and there is general pandemonium in the town.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal monk µ Your erstwhile palace and queens’ quarters are on fire and a strong wind is fanning the fire. O’ Lord µ why don’t you even look at it?”

Nami “Those, who do not have anything to lose, live happily and peacefully. There is nothing that is mine in Mithila, which I may lose if it burns? For a monk, who has freed himself of the attachment with sons, wives, household, business and affairs of the state, there is nothing that is dear or otherwise. I am alone. There is nothing that is mine nor am I of anybody or anything. There is perfect bliss for a monk with such detached disposition, who sees only the spiritual benefit and nothing else.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal warrior µ First you must secure your capital town by getting the city–wall with observation posts, sentry posts, city–gates, and moat constructed and setting up hundreds of fire–launchers thereon and only then take the vows if you must.”

Nami “One liberates from the mundane existence when thecity–gate of faith is secured with the stoppers of penance and restraint; the moat, posts and fire–launchers of forgiveness; protected by the city–wall of restraint of mind, body and speech. When the bow of endeavour is held at the handle of patience and when the bowstring of vigilant movements is tied with the hand of truth and when the armour of karmic bondage, holding the soul captive in this world, is pierced by the arrows of penance.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal warrior µ You must go on your spiritual quest only after getting the palaces, the affluence giving houses and the lake–palaces constructed for your own aggrandisement and the benefit of your people.”

Nami “One, who doubts his capability to reach the destination only constructs a house on the way. Therefore, one must built a house at the final destination only.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal warrior µ You must accept monastic ordination only after bringing the thieves, way–layers, murderous robbers and pick–pockets under control.”

Nami“In this world, many a time the wrong punishments are awarded. Innocent people are punished and the wrong–doers escape punishment. I must, therefore, not resort to such punishment.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal warrior µ You must accept monastic ordination only after bringing the kings and principals that do not accept your suzerainty, under subjugation.”

Nami “What is the use of winning external wars? The warrior that wins his own self is much superior to the one that wins millions of warriors on the battle field. His conquest is the real and supreme conquest. Therefore, one must fight against one’s own self. Real happiness lies in conquering the self. Five sense–organs, passions such as anger, pride, guile and greed and the mind are really very difficult to conquer. By self–conquest all these are won.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal warrior µ You must accept monastic ordination only after getting abundant religious ritual offerings performed and after performing such offerings yourself, after feeding many Śramaṇic and Brāhaminic mendicants, after giving ample charities to the deserving and enjoying the fruits of your pious actions.”

Nami “The observance of self restraint, inherent in monastic life, is better than giving a million cows in charity every month. Monasticism is beneficial and an assurance of spiritual wealth even when the monks cannot give anything in charity.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal monarch µ your desire to become a monk by leaving the household is not right. You must perform many a pious deed while staying a householder.”

Nami “One, who undertakes even such rigorous penance as observing fasts for months on end and taking only as little food as can be held on the tip of a blade of grass, but with ignorance, cannot gain even the sixteenth part of the benefit to be drawn from observing the right monasticism as preached by the Lords Jina.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal warrior µ You must accept monastic ordination only after filling your treasury with invaluable gems and pearls as well as gold and silver and after acquiring abundant quantities of clothes, pots and vans.”

Nami “The greed is insatiable and great like the expanse of the sky. Even if there be innumerable heaps of gold and silver, each as large as Mt. Kailāśa, they are not enough for the greedy. All the wealth of the earth like land, grains, gold and cattle are not enough to satisfy the greed of even one greedy person. I must, therefore not pursue the path of worldly wealth and follow that of spiritual wealth, restraint and penance to be gained through spiritual pursuits.”

Śakra – “O’ Royal Lord of the land µ It is surprising that you forsake the pleasures that are readily available to you here and hanker after the unavailable, unseen and uncertain pleasures of the afterlife. It seems you are being duped by useless intentions.”

Nami “The worldly pleasures, which you talk about, are like thorns in the side that constantly rankle. They are like fatal poison or poisonous snake. Even those who cannot enjoy them but only desire them are also condemned to miserable destinies. The anger results in hellish rebirth; pride in lowly rebirths, deceit hinders good destiny and greed results in fear in this life and the one hereafter. ”

After this long dialogue the heavenly king, Śakra, was convinced of the steadfastness of king Nami’s detachment from the mundane pleasures and his intense desire to seek the ultimate goal of spiritual emancipation. He shed his disguise and coming into his real divine form, bowed to him and praising the royal ascetic with sweet and melodious words said –

Śakra – “O’ Royal monk µ what a surprise of surprises µ you have conquered the anger, you have vanquished the pride, you have dispelled guile and you have controlled the greed. Ohµ your simplicity is praiseworthy, Ohµ your humility is noble, Ohµ your forgiveness is graceful, and Ohµ your contentment is noble, too. O’ Lordµ you are noble in this world and you will gain supreme nobility in the world hereafter as well. Shedding all karma–mire, you shall achieve the ultimate destination of liberation.”

Thus, praising Nami venerably, Śakra, the king of heavenly gods, devotedly circled around the royal ascetic three times and bowed to him again and again. Thereafter, bowing at his feet, marked with the auspicious marks of conch–shell and elephant–goad, the king of heavens, who wore beautiful and radiant crown and ear–jewels, flew upwards into the sky and left for his heavenly kingdom.

The royal ascetic Nami, however, forsook his kingdom with royal riches and remained steadfast in his spiritual pursuits even after he was variously prompted, tempted, lured and enticed by Śakra, the king of the heavenly gods, himself.

The Moral Of The Story –

This story amply brings out the fact that those, who are spiritually motivated, do not consider the worldly wealth and grandeur of any consequence. They are neither prompted by the lures of worldly pleasures nor do they fall prey to the temptations of power and pelf. They overcome the attachments of the past associations and their detachment is so strong that they do not consider anything theirs and themselves of anyone’s. Nami’s words, “Nothing that is mine burns when Mithilā burns.” Is an eye–opener for all those who remain firmly attached to their meagre wealth as well as deeply engrossed in inconsequential mundane pleasures.

This story clearly brings out the importance of spiritual pursuits over those of worldly ones when it says that self–conquest is much more important than conquering millions of warriors in a war. This fact is further emphasised when the royal ascetic refutes the contention of the king of gods that he should first subjugate those that do not accept his suzerainty. Here, Śakra tries to strike at the very ego of the royal ascetic but even then he does not rise to the bait offered.

Hinting at the nobility of monastic life Nami remarks that the pursuit of monasticism is better than giving great charities and indulging in other pious deeds while staying as a householder. Even the charity as great as giving away a million cows everyday is nothing as compared to the pursuit of proper monasticism in a state of detached disposition.

The passions in general and the greed in particular is roundly denounced when it is said that the entire wealth of the earth also cannot satisfy the greed of one greedy person and that greed is as vast as the expanse of the sky.

Like this, all the moral values that one ought to practice in order to lead a wholesome life and to achieve the ultimate destiny of liberation, have been amply highlighted in this story.

The story ends on the appropriate note that ‘all the extra–ordinary, enlightened and learned persons so get detached from worldly pleasures as the royal ascetic Nami had.’Svastika

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